It was the launch party for a new literary magazine (I think) called DenimSkin. A friend had found out about it from a flyer in her apartment building in Harlem. It was late into the night. The open bar was closed. People were drunk. People were stoned. The line for the one-person bathroom was long.
The room was emptying out, the snacks were gone, and the host whose back pocket held the slip of paper on which I’d written my name at the beginning of the night to sign up had left the building a half hour before.
But this was about to be my 600th new thing, and it had to be good. Yes, for you, my readers, but also for me, a girl from Ohio who declared at age 2, as recorded in her baby book at her mother’s house in the suburbs, “I feel shy.”
I stepped up to the mike and started reading something I’d printed out at work earlier that day, written a couple of years ago. It was something they didn’t expect, after a night of poetry, serious literary readings, and music: an essay called My Bladder and Me.
And though people were tired, they laughed. If you don’t know much about me, you should know that to me, laughter is one of the sweetest sounds in the world, and because when I do it I feel a rush of pleasure from my chest to my toes, it’s the sound I most want to inspire to emerge from others.
I’m happy to report that I distinctly heard at least 3 separate people laughing at different times.
After I was finished, 2 guys came up to tell me they liked it.
“That was good!” one said.
“Yeah, it was so honest,” the other said. “You remind me of a girl from high school who always made us stop the car so she could use the bathroom.”
I laughed and thanked them and knew my first–possibly only–reading had been a success.
Because connecting with another human being on some level was the whole point of the reading, wasn’t it–is the whole point of life, isn’t it? That’s why we’re here (in the philosophical, on-this-earth sense, not the literal, in-my-bed-on-a-Saturday-morning sense), right? To make connections with people and in some small way, positively affect them?
I think so.
Anyway, the point is, if you are hosting a reading and would like someone to tell a room full of strangers about how ridiculously small her bladder is, I am now a seasoned veteran.